Cite two examples where dreams are used to foreshadow the consequences of living in a totalitarian state in 1984.

Expert Answers
gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main character, Winston Smith, has two dreams which foreshadow his eventual capture and torture by the totalitarian state, the Party which he secretly rebels against. He knows from the start that he ultimately cannot escape this fate, but he holds out as long as he can.

One of the dreams prefigures Winston’s brutalisation in the ironically-named Ministry of Love at the hands of O’Brien, whom he initially and mistakenly believes to be a rebel like himself. In this dream O’Brien mysteriously promises him that ‘We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness’ (Part 1 chapter 2). At first glance, this image of a place without darkness may appear idyllic rather than sinister, and Winston doesn’t know what to make of it, but he realises its grim significance when he is arrested and taken to a building where the lights remain on all the time. This is where the process of hideous torture and manipulation begins.

Similarly, Winston has a recurring nightmare which he recalls upon seeing a rat in the dingy room where he secretly meets his lover Julia. Rats are his greatest fear, and the sight of them reminds him of this nightmare, where he stands in front of a wall beyond which lies something too awful for him to contemplate. This foreshadows the ultimate torture inflicted on him by the Party in room 101, the place where prisoners are subjected to their very worst fears. Here, under attack from rats, Winston finally breaks down completely, but then realises that he can yet avert this horror – by wishing it on someone else.

But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment – one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. (Part 3 chapter 5)

That person is Julia, his lover; he performs the ultimate act of betrayal by genuinely willing her to suffer instead of him. This is exactly what the Party wants him to do, to give up his personal loyalties and ideas and submit completely to the state. After this, there is no way back for him.